Most if not all of the people reading this post will remember that we brought Bill’s ashes out to Crazy Horse Memorial in July, 2010, as he had requested several years before his death. Eleven family members came to celebrate his life and release his spirit in this memorable place. So when Polly and I planned this trip, there was little doubt that we would visit Crazy Horse again. And, the events of this day assured us that Bill is still making sure we enjoy life. The day started with an invitation to breakfast at the home of Larry and Janine Barnes. Janine had helped to arrange Bill’s celebration in 2010. I emailed her several days before our arrival. She suggested that we stay at the Rocket Motel and asked that we give her a call when we arrived. Yesterday she called to invite us to breakfast. Meeting us at the motel this morning, she led us out to their home near Crazy Horse. And, what a home it is! The beautiful log home is located off Highway 16. Moving from Iowa several years ago, they spent a couple of years constructing the home, with Larry doing most of the work himself. There is an old wood-burning stove used as their main source of heat in the living room, kitchen area, an old coffee grinder that belonged to Larry’s grandfather, and other unique collectibles that made the house so special. We enjoyed a delicious meal of omelets and French toast before reluctantly telling them goodbye and heading to Crazy Horse Memorial. What a joy when your life is enriched by new friends!
Under a beautiful blue sky we made our way up to the Visitor Center. I am a member of the Grassroots Club, which enabled us to get in free. Janine had suggested that we get in touch with Duane when we arrived. When we introduced ourselves he offered to give us a van ride up near the mountain for a closer look, some photos and a progress report on recent activities. Last year workers drilled more than 8 miles of 1 ½ inc drill holes and removed over 42, 000 tons of rock. The rock debris that has accumulated from blasts over the years has slowly grown almost to the level at which they are working. Some is hauled in old pickup trucks to the Visitor Center and offered to tourists. Yep, we got some! But now most is hauled a short distance to a rock crushing center. It is crushed and used to maintain the gravel roads and to build a new parking area for the annual 1.5 million visitors It will also be used to develop the site for the proposed 4-year college, medical center and new museum. Since the dedication in 1998, work has focused on blocking out the horse’s head. The horse’s head will be more than 219 feet tall, and the mane 62 feet tall. For more information on how the mountain is carved, click on this link, Carving the Mountain.
Then we spent some time in the museum and money in gift shop (of course). There is some irony in the fact that we visited Little Bighorn Battlefield before coming here. As I reflect on this trip, I feel that there is order in the universe.
Throughout the visit, I felt Bill’s spirit watching over us. Somehow I know he must be pleased that we were there again. To learn more about Crazy Horse Memorial, I encourage my readers to click on the link, Crazy Horse Memorial. There you can find out more about the history and future of this place. If you are so moved, you can send a donation in Bill’s memory. Leaving Crazy Horse, we rode into Custer State Park, specifically to Sylvan Lake, a recommendation from Larry and Janine. We saw the lake and were happy to find out that the Needles Highwaywas open. There were signs of the bark beetle everywhere. In fact, Duane had told us that 34,000 trees had been removed from the Crazy Horse property with another 11,000 scheduled to come down. But the drive was spectacular. The photos tell it all.
Our exciting day came to an end after dark. We ate some snacks in the room and fell into bed early.
Approximately 50 miles at most October 28, 2012